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Second Tiki Lee’s Shootout Poker Run Registration Open And Filling Fast

After pulling off an ambitious inaugural event to much fanfare, including that of MTI founder Randy Scism, the organizers of the Tiki Lee’s Shootout On The River are gearing up for another festive poker run and top-speed shootout. They opened registration and sponsorship opportunities two weeks ago for the second annual event taking place July 15-17 at the popular Tiki Lee’s Dock Bar in Sparrows Point, Md., and the poker run is 70 percent sold out with several sponsors jumping on board, including title sponsor WMF Watercraft & Marine, and gold level sponsors, Midnight Express Boats and Total Marine.

Bill Forenski, who drove this 27-foot Avalon 76.9 mph in the three-quarter-mile Shootout On The River last July, and the WMF Watercraft & Marine team are excited to once again be the title sponsor of the event in Sparrows Point, Md. Photo by Tim Sharkey/Sharkey Images

With such positive response already, it’s clear the event is in a different place than it was a year ago when Maryland’s David Carey, the owner of Tiki Lee’s, was prepping for the Florida Powerboat Club Miami Boat Show Poker Run And Exhibit at Gilbert’s Resort in Key Largo, Fla. Not only was he going to participate in the 2021 event in his new 37-foot Midnight Express center console powered by quad Mercury Racing 450R engines, he was bringing a crew to help promote the first-year event on the Chesapeake Bay’s tributary of Back River and the surrounding waterways.

This year Carey is at it again—getting ready to head to Miami where he’s going to take delivery of a new 37 Open that is going to be on display during the Miami International Boat Show in the Midnight Express booth at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

“My new 37 is going to be on display on land at the boat show, and after that we’re running it in the Florida Powerboat Club event,” Carey said. “Of course we’ll be promoting the Shootout On The River at Tiki Lee’s. We had more than 120 boats in the poker run last year and we’re thinking we could get to 135 boats comfortably this time around.”

David Carey’s gorgeous new Midnight Express 37 Open with quad Mercury Racing 450R engines is going to be on display at the Miami International Boat Show next week. Photo courtesy Midnight Express

Carey has no doubt Friday’s poker run, which he said will include at least $15,000 in cash and prizes, will sell out. He also has high expectations for Saturday’s three-quarter-mile top-speed contest—the only sanctioned shootout on Back River. Last year the winning boat was Steve Stanley’s 40-foot Skater Powerboats catamaran Chaos, which offshore racers Brit Lilly and Kevin Smith ran to a top speed of 139.4 mph to claim the Fastest On The River trophy, a championship belt and a $6,000 bottle of tequila.

During the Shootout On The River, there also will be award ceremonies on Friday and Saturday evening, a bikini contest on Friday night, exhibition air shows on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, plus a boutique boat show and demonstration day for manufacturers and dealers on Sunday.

Bill Forenski, the owner of WMF Watercraft & Marine in Millsboro, Del., said he’s excited to be involved with the event again, especially now that he knows what to expect.

“Last year we got involved a little late and didn’t have as big of a presence at the event; this year we’ll be set up in the parking lot and at the docks from Wednesday through Sunday,” said Forenski, who ran his dealership’s 27-foot Avalon Pontoon Boats Excalibur model equipped with twin Mercury Racing 450R engines to an impressive 76.9 mph in the shootout. “We had such a great time at the event last year. I can’t tell you how much exposure we got necessarily, but I know we got something out of it. Plus it’s a local event for us so it’s good to support local business. Everything we experienced there was top notch—from the wait staff to the venue to the owner of Tiki Lee’s, Dave Carey. I didn’t know him before this event and now we have a nice friendship because of it.”

Event organizers are expecting 130-plus boats for the Tiki Lee’s Shootout On The River poker run in mid July. Photo by Tim Sharkey

Forenski added that he’s planning to bring several Avalon boats—and other brands the dealership carries—to the Shootout On The River in July. Of course, he’ll have a high-powered Avalon model to run in the top-speed contest, but he said he’s going to have more “middle of the road” boats that appeal to the masses a little more than a 900-hp tri-toon.

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